Friday, March 28, 2008


So now that you've seen my favorite things, what about my favorite links (at least for this week)?

You don't need to be a college basketball fan to enjoy brackets. You can also be a fan of bad fashion. I've got a beer and cheeseburger riding on Chloe Sevigny taking the whole thing. (Tyler's hoping that some no-name attention whore will win the whole thing. I think America knows better.)

Best pie idea ever! No more worries about eating an entire pie myself. (Says Blogless Jenn in DC: I have the overwhelming urge to invest in some mason jars)

I just discovered the Family Trunk Project by Emily Johnson. So far she's got three beautiful patterns, but the idea is even more brilliant. Can't wait to see what else she comes up with.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

100: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Whoa. That was quick. I can't believe I've had a hundred posts in less than a year. Whatever happened to quality over quantity, eh?

I tried to think of a fun way to mark this milestone, but it's difficult at best. But I had a bit of a brainwave this weekend and I thought I'd give you a bit of an insight into some of my favorite things.

Favorite Neighborhood Place
Heather Garden in Ft. Tryon Park

Great advice

I take more pictures in this park than anywhere else and this is definitely my favorite spot in my favorite park. I paid a visit here on Easter Sunday when I went out walking while the bread was rising. When I was in grad school, I'd take walks here in the morning before class when it would just be me and the little old ladies. Now that Spring has arrived, I like to follow the way that the garden changes from week to week. On Easter Sunday, the sheets of ice on the rocks were rapidly thawing and the crocuses and heather were blooming as well as some violets.

The sheet of ice cracked and fell
immediately after I took this shot.
Take that, Winter!

The daffodils and forsythias (which for some reason I always called "forcynthias" when I was little) are just about to bloom meaning next weekend is sure to be a sight.

Forcythias, Daffodils, Crocus

From the garden you can look out onto a really spectacular view of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge.

Hey there, Big Fella

I've noticed that the Gay Recluse is not the only one with a bit of an obsession for that particular structure. The pathways in Ft. Tryon were designed so that they are never straight and as you walk the view changes subtly as new vistas open up between the trees. The only time I'm grateful there are no leaves is when it let's me take a picture like this. I feel like the bare branches nicely mimic the support trusses of the bridge.

Can you believe they ever wanted to clad this in stone???

Favorite Dishware
Pantone Bowls from Fishs Eddy (and they're on sale!)

This pattern combines my love of dishware and my love of paint colors in one adorable package. I also have the bowl in blue, but I keep it at work. Actually, ANYTHING from Fishs Eddy could qualify as a favorite thing. My sugarbowl is in the 212 NYC skyline pattern. I've given the Democrat and Republican glasses as gifts to Knitter Jenn in DC. The hula girl pattern to Cousin Jess. Vintage dishes to coworkers (apparently only available in the store). And I'm especially covetous of these new floorplan plates. The penthouse platter is probably the closest I'll ever get to the real thing.

Favorite Lotion
Crabtree and Evelyn Gardener's Hand Therapy

I have the pump above sitting on my desk at work. Somehow, despite the extreme anti-social vibes I emit, people still manage to visit my cube for a squirt of the stuff. I can't really blame them. It smells delightful and it is simply amazing for the hands. Um and I got it for free because Dad attends golf fund raisers where he gets swag bags. Apparently he is not a fan of lotion?

Favorite Shoes
Sofft Serena in Aubergine

Sofft's shoes are super comfy and super cute. They're typically tucked away with all the hush puppies, aerosoles and naturalizers in the "comfort" shoe section at Macy's which is in no man's land on the fourth floor behind dresses. I mean, come on, aubergine suede with patent leather trim and an adorable little flower? Precious! And I got these on sale... 60% off!

Favorite Place to Sit and Think
Sand Dunes on LBI

It doesn't matter if it's post-hurricane or on a warm sunny day or at night with a glass of wine.

I'm sure I've just verified multiple items on Stuff White People Like (#9 Making You Feel Bad for Not Going Outside, #24 Wine, #26 Manhattan, #49 Vintage, #51 Living by Water, #54 Kitchen Gadgets?, #73 Gentrification, #84 Graduate School), but honestly I do love all these things, and I am, in fact, a white person.

What are your favorite things?

Monday, March 24, 2008

New Bag and New Bread

I recently found I was powerless to resist the sale over at Lexie Barnes. Especially when I discovered the Mariposa Yoga Bag was available in my favorite discontinued pattern Dutch Treat. You can't beat it for $32, I say. I certainly wasn't expecting it to come in so handy so quickly. I used it to carry some laundry home to Jersey last weekend rather than packing a huge duffle bag.

So far I have yet to use it for toting my actual yoga mat, but it's pretty f'in sweet I must say. Here's a shot with the mat for scale. Plenty of room left for a towel and clothes or whatever. And I really like the pockets on the interior and on the ends.

This weekend I did a whole lot of cooking which was partly a shame because I spent way too much time indoors and partly delightful because I got some really excellent food for the rest of the week. I made a vegetable stock rather than buy cans after reading Ruhlman's panegyric for the real thing. I froze some of the stock, used about a third for Creamy Potato Leek Soup (we don't call it Vichyssoise or whatever in our house. We're Irish, damnit.) and reserved a quart for risotto the next day (I'm also half Italian though you wouldn't know it from the way my grandmother cooks. ugh.) I tried my hand at baking bread with bread flour rather than all-purpose. I can only say that what happened next can only be regarded as an Easter Miracle!

In our family we have a simply awe-inspiring collection of recipes (not from Grandma) passed down through the generations. We call it The Joy of Cooking. While my copy may not be as splattered as and lacks the split binding of Dad's copy, it is still well loved. But somehow I have never been able to master the bread making. Unless they're cakelike breads, they simply don't work out as planned. This past Saturday was no different.

I opted to try the Milk Bread base to make Cinnamon Raisin Bread thinking it'd make great Easter Sunday French Toast (Irish+Italian=mostly lapsed Catholic). I followed the recipe and all seemed to be progressing fine, although I was disappointed to not see enough description of the way the dough should look. I left the dough to rise (yes, I had used yeast) until doubled in bulk, and while it wasn't quite there, it looked close enough. I rolled the bread out and spread the cinnamon, sugar and raisins before rolling it up like a jelly roll (not that I've ever made one) and putting it into the oven to bake. 40 minutes later the apartment was filled with the aroma of warm cinnamon and sugar. I took the bread out to cool and left it overnight while visions of cinnamon raisin french toast danced in my head.

The next morning I tap the bottom to hear for that hollow sound The Joy of Cooking assures me I will hear when the bread is done. Nope. More like a dull thud. And the bread is hard as a rock. Damnit. I cut it open and sure enough, it's solid as a rock too. But did I give up? Nay! It was Easter Sunday and if Jebus rose, then sure as heck, my Cinnamon Bread could too.

I grabbed the Joy of Cooking and got back to work. I figured I may have used water that was too hot and killed the yeast the first time so I made it more lukewarm and allowed the yeast to dissolve a bit longer. I allowed the dough to rise for about 2 hours rather than 1 and sure enough, it doubled in bulk and felt a lot less like rubber. Then I got to the part in the instructions where I'm told that after rolling it up like a jelly roll, I need to let the bread rise for another hour. Whoops, missed that part the first time.

The second time was definitely a charm. While the bread rose, I took a walk (more about that next post) and finally got some fresh air. Once it was baked it was truly glorious, a veritable Easter Miracle! Don't believe me? Behold:

I had some for breakfast this morning and good gracious it's delicious. Would've made great Easter French Toast. *sigh* And here it is next to the rock (click for big because I'd prefer not to even think about how bad that first one turned out):

Quite a difference, eh? Happy Easter to one and all (if that's your cup of tea).

Monday, March 10, 2008

Oh hai!

These mittens are so frickin precious I find myself speaking lolcat whenever I look at them. I mean, c'mon:


I don't know if it's the combination of pattern and color, or what, but you can't tell me they wouldn't cheer you up on a gray soggy day in March. The color in the top picture is very accurate, but here's a gratuitous mitten shot:

Pattern: Mitered Mittens by Elizabeth Zimmerman
From: Knitter's Almanac
Yarn: Classic Elite Montera (Llama and Wool)
Yardage: 1 skein (127 yds.)
Started: March 4th
Finished: March 9th (weaving in ends is a biotech ;))

And then there's the matter of this little number:

I was waiting until I had St. Pat's Day pics to post, but this'll have to do. It served me very well on Hoboken St. Patrick's Day (although there were those in the group who insisted on calling me a Green Beret no matter how often I insisted it was a tam)

Pattern: Moss Stitch Beret by Kent Turman
Yarn: Cascade 220
Yardage: about 200
Started: February 21st
Finished: February 26th

Modifications detailed here.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Socks socks socks

So I may have signed up for a sock swap. And I may have been bitten by the sock bug.

These are toe-up Hedgerow Socks for my sock swap partner in Zitron Pro Natura. And they're pretty awesome.

These are getting bumped to the top of the queue:
Toe Up Jaywalkers
Crazy Monkeys

Now if only those argyle socks didn't have me stymied. I'd be knitting socks for days.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Bring on the Spring!

It's a positively balmy 55 degrees outside which has been giving me pleasant thoughts of warm breezes, blossoming flowers, lazy strolls through the park... and spring cleaning.

In that mindset, I've made some changes to the sidebar content over yonder --> primarily where it concerns my foolhardy goals for 2008. Never fear, this rejiggering* is only a minor matter of shifting the finish dates for Juno and Venezia to April and bumping up the April projects to March (which is actually pretty nice because I've already cast on for a bag). I've also made May the month of a Clapotis (clap-OH-tee) and a Tee (hee hee!). I decided Picovoli is probably not the one I want to do, and instead I might try Wicked or Green Gable.

The not-quite-spring cleaning has also extended to UFO pile.

You may remember Blaze? Well, go ahead and forget about her because she is no more. I frogged the whole thing and rescued the beautiful Classic Elite Princess yarn from what would've been an unworn and unloved FO if ever it reached FO status. It's better this way, trust me. I soaked the yarn to get rid of the crimps and then wound it into balls so that it'll soon be ready to make something really pretty, like Norah Gaughan's Nantucket Jacket. The yarn really showed beautiful stitch definition so I think on something cabled and lovely like that it'll be really gorgeous. And hopefully it'll give me more opportunity to practice cables without cable needles. And hopefully it'll look less like a tent.

In further springlike thoughts, we have this yarn pr0n courtesy of a completely awesome birthday present by Knitter Jenn in NY.

It's Brooklyn Handspun Signature Superwash Sock Yarn in Devino Green. If that isn't the most springlike thing ever, I don't know what is.

In knitting news, I managed to create a pretty stubborn tangle in my Sundara Silk Lace on Juno, which made me put it aside over the weekend rather than actually deal with the fact that I may have to do some cutting. Ironic, no? Given the number of steeked projects I have. I'll also have some FO pics to post later this week, but I'm dying for a huge order of Malabrigo and another of Lorna's Laces to finally show up at Yarntopia so I can finally cast on for some eagerly anticipated projects.

*please tell me I'm not the only one who giggles uncontrollably just looking at that word.